In my music collection1 (nearly exclusively MD's I copied from my brothers immense CD collection) there are a number of discs I return to regularly. But there are a few that find their way into my Sony MZ-N505 daily. When I'm at home, the first thing I do is turn on the music. There is hardly ever a silent moment in my room, I even go to sleep with the music on2.
Slobberbone is one of those few. Recently I added their 2000 album, Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today, to the other two in my collection, Crow Pot Pie and Barrel Chested. I am trying to get their last album, Slippage, in my collection too.
Slobberbone originated in Denton, Texas, early in 1992, with singer/songwriter/guitarist Brent Best, lead guitarist Jess Barr, bassist Brian Lane and drummer Tony Harper. At the outset the band was not all that driven to make it big, free beer and friends being their prime incentives to perform. Reputedly, their first live show was held at a liquor store. Their self-recorded first album Crow Pot Pie changed all that, however, when it fell into the hands of Doolittle Records founder Jeff Cole. He signed the band and re-recorded the album for a release on his label in 1996.
Filled with such gems as I can tell your love is waning and 16 days, Crow Pot Pie sets the tone for Brent Best's songwriting, who is able to mix deep subjects with catchy melodies, interesting song structures and a twisted kind of humor. Slobberbone is, well, different. A large part of its appeal, to me, but also some notable others, like Stephen King and Larry Brown3, is the lyrical quality of the songs. They narrate, in a catchy, good sounding framework of music, serious, strange and weird anecdotes in a very humorous, slightly twisted, way.
In 1997 Slobberbone followed Crow Pot Pie up with Barrel Chested, another winner, which I must admit took me longer to appreciate in full. Songs like Engine Joe and Billy Pritchard I immediately consolidated on my MD with the previous album Crow Pot Pie, and this was for a long time the only Slobberbone MD I listened to. Recently I have been running the full Barrel Chested album through, and I'm liking it more and more. Previously unnoticed songs like One Rung and Barrel Chested are growing on me, as are most of the others.
Their third album, Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today, released in 2000 on New West imprint, took me a while to get in my collection. A shame, because I feel I have been missing out. This is, at the moment, my favorite. Especially songs like Josephine and Lumberlung, both with that trademark twisted flavor, are pushing this album to my personal top. Especially the sad, gripping, funny tale of Josephine, performed with just the right musical backing is a winner.
Slobberbones latest effort, Slippage, I don't yet have, although I have sampled the covered rendition of To love somebody, written by the Gibb brothers, and it's promising. Some label this album the most approachable of Slobberbone to date, although I must wonder what isn't approachable about the previous three albums. This must really be an excellent album, then.
So what is it exactly that makes Slobberbone such a rewarding band to listen to? To me, the combination of smart lyrics with the right supporting musical background, ranging from hard-edged rock to banjo-plucking ballads and everything in between, is what makes it right. Lyrics I find very important for repeated listening. There are uncountable songs I hear on mainstream radio these days that entertain me the first five, or maybe even ten or twenty times, until I get past the tunes and get to listening to the lyrics. At which point I just have to go, "Oh, for fuck's sake!", ala Eddie Izzard, and detest the song ever after. Not so with the eternals in my collection, amongst which I definitely count all the albums of Slobberbone, and others you never hear on mainstream radio, like Gram Parsons, Bonnie Prince Billy, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash.
Crow Pot Pie
Initial Independent Release - Recorded in 1994
Recorded and mixed by Sam McCall at Resin Studios, Denton, Texas
All songs written and performed by Slobberbone
Crow Pot Pie
Doolittle Records, 1996
Doolittle Records, 1997
Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today
Doolittle Records, 2000
New West, 2002
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1 See the (now slightly outdated) list on my homenode.
2 With an ingenious system to turn it off and on at the appropriate times... read my daylog about that...
3 Read the bio on their website: http://www.slobberbone.com/bio.html
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